It was interesting to read about the Civil War soldiers and their readjustment to regular life after the Civil War. The veterans had to deal with so many things like finding jobs, dealing with disease, alcohol and drug addictions, as well as simply readjusting to civilian life. There were so many veterans and not enough jobs, so many ended up in poverty. I thought it was great how the government created shelters for ex-soldiers, where veterans could stay until they were able to get back on their feet. I did, however, think it was wrong that the government instituted military-style discipline in the shelter, such as soldiers being required to wear uniforms, etc. The book made a good point, which I completely agree with, and that being the soldiers were trying to forget about the war and by creating this militaristic environment, the veterans were not given the chance to try and forget.  Some citizens attitudes postwar probably did not help the soldiers. While some soldiers were unruly, most were simply trying to begin their regular lives but some citizens automatically assumed that all soldiers were unruly and therefore held a lower opinion. Other citizens helped the soldiers, working closely with veterans groups to make life easier for them. 

Black veterans were not treated well. They were exploited, especially at the end of the war. Most were sent to the South to keep order down there. Why would the Union army send the African American soldiers there, knowing Southerners thoughts and reactions about African Americans?? These soldiers volunteered to fight in the Union knowing they would not be treated fairly and then they are exploited by the government. How unfair. But through all of this, the African American veterans never put up a fight… they always followed orders. 

I never thought there would be a difference in how Union and Confederate soldiers readjusted. After reading, I found there were many differences. The Confederate veterans had a much harder time, because they were living with the burden of defeat. Some experienced periods of violence, while others had bouts of depression. Much of the Confederate veterans hatred was toward African Americans after the war, which led to more crime/violence, such as the Ku Klux Klan. I never had any idea that the original clan members were confederate veterans. It was sad the torture the African Americans went through. They were harassed beyond belief and therefore could do very little without running the risk of being attacked.

Why was there no public assistance offered to ex-Confederate soldiers? I do not think that their losing the war was a cause of no public assistance…. I do believe the South was struggling economically after the war and being defeated probably did not help any. I found it interesting how the book said veteran activities (soldiers joining veteran groups, etc) increased public concern for their well-being. Why did public concern increase only when veterans began to join groups? It was surprising to see that some veterans refused to accept state money. Many claimed it was “unmanly” for a soldier to take it, so instead they lived in poverty and struggled to get by. I think that is a dumb thing to do; accepting state money does not make someone “unmanly.”

I couldn’t believe how some people tried to take advantage of the government pensions by marrying soldiers. That is so wrong… it made me angry. People could not even appreciate the sacrifice those soldiers had made; they exploited soldiers for their money. I was amazed at how long the last couple of Civil War soldiers lived. One died in 1957, while another died in 1959. That is a long time. What surprised me even more was the soldier Sylvester Magee, who lived until 1971. It was great to see that his legacy could live on and that he could carry on the legacy of a Civil War Veteran, so that no one would ever forget the sacrifices soldiers from both sides made during that war.